Travel and Tourism

Time to build confidence in International Travel!

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Vishal Bhatia, Country Manager – India, Visit Britain

“The UK has one of the most free-flowing borders and open societies in Europe,” says Vishal Bhatia, Country Manager – India, Visit Britain. In an exclusive with Reema Lokesh, founder – Reemarkabl.com, he shares some pertinent points on formalities and protocols for Indian travelers in the post-vaccinated world.

1) Great Britain opens doors to tourism, which reinstates some confidence. Your views on the way forward. Britain’s tourism industry is ready to welcome international visitors, we know there is pent-up demand for travel and our priority is to build back visitor spending as quickly as possible, competing hard for international visitors who contribute billions to our economy.
Our £10 million global GREAT Britain marketing campaign is already rolling out across our overseas markets, showing that Britain is packed full of fresh and exciting experiences to come and enjoy today.
This year’s landmark events including HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games and the ground-breaking ‘Unboxed’ events across the UK, set to be global tourism draws, also present exciting and timely opportunities to highlight experiences that visitors can have here.
We also know there is a need to continue to build confidence in international travel and our marketing is also reinforced by messages of welcome and reassuring international travelers that ‘Britain is a safe place to travel. Working with our trade partners in India is also crucial to converting the huge demand and inspiration to visit Britain into bookings. We were very pleased to host top travel trade buyers from India at our recent ‘Connect to Collaborate’ networking event in Dubai, during the week of celebrations for UK National Day at Dubai Expo, listening and working together to drive visits to the UK and highlighting why now is a brilliant time to book a trip.

2) Can you throw some light on the outbound formalities and protocols for Indian travelers in the post-vaccinated world?
As of 4am 11 February, all testing requirements for eligible fully vaccinated travelers arriving in to the UK have been lifted and only a simplified passenger locator form is required.
It means that eligible fully vaccinated travelers arriving in the UK no longer need to take any COVID-19 tests – resulting in the UK having one of the most free-flowing borders and open societies in Europe.
Eligible fully vaccinated travelers are now only required to fill out a simplified passenger locator form, confirming their vaccination status, travel history and contact details.
Also, from 11 February, arrivals who do not qualify as fully vaccinated will only need to take a pre-departure test in the 2 days before they depart for the UK and a PCR test on or before the end of day 2 after they arrive in the UK, as well as completing the passenger locator form. These passengers will not need to self-isolate on arrival and will only need to do so if they test positive.
The UK Government has said that the relaxation in requirements is thanks to the success of the vaccine and booster rollout.
More information is available from the UK Government website here.

Chair of VisitBritain Dame Judith Macgregor, left, with UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, our Director for APMEA Tricia Warwick and the UK Government’s GREAT campaign Director Andrew Pike, at the formal launch of our £10 million international GREAT Britain campaign – Welcome to Another Side of Britain – in Dubai, and rolling out from this week across our international markets.


3) Your message as country manager India – Britain’s tourism legacy and the way forward.
India is a very important tourism source market for the UK, and a key source of growth and value. Inbound visits and spend from India have more than doubled in 10 years to 2019. Indian visitors spend 56% more than the average visitor and they also stayer longer, more than twice the global average.
The UK enjoys very favorable perceptions in India, ranking fourth out of 60 nations for its ‘historic buildings’ and ‘contemporary culture’ and is also rated highly for its vibrant city life.
Indian visits to the UK are forecast to reach 706,000 by 2025 (exceeding pre-COVID levels by 2%), with spend to reach £793 million in the same year (exceeding pre-COVID levels by 5%).
Our latest research also shows that there is pent-up demand for travel from India. Our international COVID-19 consumer sentiment survey has revealed strong desire to travel with more than nine in 10 Indians we surveyed planning to take a trip abroad in the next 12 months – with Britain high up the consideration list of European destinations.
The UK’s tourism sector is open for business and ready to welcome international visitors.

About author
a senior journalist, clarity coach, classical dancer, panel moderator and an eternal optimist.
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